Among the Headstones Author Interview: Zachary Ashford

Image of Among the Headstones book cover

Welcome to the third and final day of my interview trilogy for the upcoming Gothic anthology, Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard, edited by Gothic author Rayne Hall.

Full details about the haunting anthology are provided at the end of the interview. But now, let’s chat with Australian-based author Zachary Ashford.

Using three words, Zachary, describe your story in Among the Headstones.

Spooky, tropical, cemetery.

Is there a particular graveyard that inspired this story?

Not a real one. My wife and I have visited some of the more beautiful cemeteries while travelling, but the graveyard in my story is one of the typical country-town ones you see in rural and regional Australia. They’re usually quite tiny, existing on a single block of land. They’re really quite interesting because you might think there’s no one around, but the town may have been a satellite community on a regional route from back in the day.

I recently read your novella When the Cicadas Stop Singing. It’s full of Australian sounds and smells and flora. Is “The Hound in the Cemetery” also imbued with Australian life?

First, thank you so much for reading that. I really appreciate it. But, yes, “The Hound in the Cemetery” is full of the sounds of fruit-bats. It’s scaled back when compared to Cicadas, but the sounds of Australian wildlife are so central to what makes this country what it is. My wife and I travel as much as possible, and it doesn’t take long for us to start missing those sounds. I use them as a reference point whenever I can in creating setting. Those things are such a big part of human existence that they’re really helpful when creating a mood.

Would you rather spend the night in the graveyard from your story or in a haunted house?

This is a tough one. I’m going to go with haunted house, though. It might be haunted, but it’ll have a bed, and I can sleep through anything, hahaha.

What do you strive for when you write a story?

Really, for me as a reader, I want a fun read. Something I can whiz through without putting down. I like things to happen. I like action and movement, and I try to create that in my fiction. In a way, and this sounds pretty wanky, I try to recreate the feeling of a good heavy metal song. I want the plot to be racing forward like a good drum-beat and bass-line. From there, you’ve got the characterisation and tone to flesh out the riffs and flourishes. I want my writing to compel the reader on.

No, not wanky at all. Pretty cool, actually. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I’m a creature of routine. I’ve really got to get myself in the right zone for writing fiction and engaging with the creative process. I’m a lot more productive if I treat it like work: get up, get showered, get comfortable. Similarly, I use certain music/sounds for certain projects. It really helps me get in the zone and train my brain into that creative work space. That’s something I do specifically, and I find it helps.

What’s your next project?

I’m feeling pretty full of ideas at the moment. I have a longer piece I’m working on, but that’s often in-between novella length pieces. I’ve just finished the first draft of a novella that’s a bit darker than what I’ve worked on so far and I’m about to start a psychological novella as well.

Good luck with everything! Where can readers find you online?

Twitter is the best place: https://twitter.com/ashford_zachary 🙂

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zachary Ashford is an Australian author and educator. His books include Sole Survivor 1, Sole Survivor II, The Encampment By The Gorge & Blood Memory, Autotomy Cocktail, and his latest release, When the Cicadas Stop Singing.

Author Zachary Ashford at home in Queensland

ABOUT THE BOOK

Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard edited by Rayne Hall, presents twenty-seven of the finest—and creepiest—graveyard tales with stories by established writers, classic authors and fresh voices.

Here you’ll find Gothic ghost stories by Robert Ellis, Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Morgan Pryce, Rayne Hall, Guy de Maupassant, Myk Pilgrim, Zachary Ashford, Amelia Edwards, Nina Wibowo, Krystal Garrett, Tylluan Penry, Ambrose Bierce, Cinderella Lo, Nikki Tait, Arthur Conan Doyle, Priscilla Bettis, Kyla Ward, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul D Dail, Cameron Trost, Pamela Turner, William Meikle and Lord Dunsany who thrill with their eerie, macabre and sometimes quirky visions.

You’ll visit graveyards in Britain, Indonesia, Russia, China, Italy, Bulgaria, Thailand, USA, Australia, South Africa and Japan, and you can marvel at the burial customs of other cultures.

Now let’s open the gate—can you hear it creak on its hinges?—and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth.

But be careful. Someone may be watching your every movement… They may be right behind you.

Purchase Link: mybook.to/Headstones

The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31 January 2022. (After that date, the price will go up.) A paperback will follow.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Among the Tombstones trilogy of interviews. I’m certainly looking forward to release day!

56 thoughts on “Among the Headstones Author Interview: Zachary Ashford

  1. Another fab interview. I think that the element of sound is sometimes overlooked in writing, and it can be so powerful. I went to Japan on my honeymoon and the sound of cicadas scared the hell out of me. (We don’t have them in the UK.) If I were in a graveyard full of the buggers – they’re the size of small birds! – I wouldn’t last long! 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are no cicadas in the UK? I didn’t know that. We have them in Virginia, and on the 7th year cycle, they can get so loud that you have to shout to be heard if you’re outside. I hear people eat them…
      Thanks for stopping by, Strange!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Priscilla, I loved this interview. When I interview somebody, I usually send all of the questions at once–this one reads as though the question was answered before the next one was sent . (Basing that observation on the exchange: create that in my fiction. In a way, and this sounds pretty wanky, I try to recreate the feeling of a good heavy metal song. I want the plot to be racing forward like a good drum-beat and bass-line. From there, you’ve got the characterisation and tone to flesh out the riffs and flourishes. I want my writing to compel the reader on.

    No, not wanky at all. Pretty cool, actually. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
    I also just pre-ordered the book.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Another fabulous interview. This has been a great series, getting to know three of the authors in the anthology. The stories sound positively mesmerizing. I’ve already got my copy on pre-order!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m looking forward to reading Zachary’s work. It’s always great to follow an author from your own city. Yeah, we know what flying foxes (or fruit bats) sound like, and we know what their poo looks like on your car windscreen too!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yuck, I’m lucky I’ve never encountered that either! My sister had one once, looking after it for some reason I can’t recall, and I’ve never forgotten the smell. They are very cute, though! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Another good interview, Priscilla. Country cemeteries and fruit bats are all very familiar! Thanks for introducing me to another Aussie author and his work. Looking forward to reading all the stories in this anthology. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was hoping to visit Australia one day and also prepared for the “wildlife” but I’m not sure if i will have enough courage after reading Mr. Ashford’s story haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Zachary, it is great to know that you put yourself in the readers shoes and create for them.

    You mentioned that you are creature of routine. Have you ever slipped out of routine? How did you get back in?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The more I read about Australia, the more I’d like to visit it.
    I found Zachary’s approach to writing interesting. When I first considered my writing a job, the pressure gave me writer’s block. But I agree about the music. I’m more productive, my thoughts freer when there’s music in the background.
    Great interview, Priscilla, Zachary. Congrats on the book.
    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, just from reading this interview, I could tell that Zachary’s works are descriptive and heavily influenced by places he’s been with (mainly Australia). That’s what I love about reading; it’s like an airplane ticket which transports you to different parts of the world. Like when writing, I also feel more productive if there’s music when I read; it helps set the tone and atmosphere!
    I am looking forward to reading your story and the rest of the anthology!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Always love a good interview! I really like the sound of how Australian flora and animals are included in his writing but also in this short story in particular. I remember seeing and learning about the bats that flew around at night when I was visiting Cairns in Australia. I miss it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have read quite a few books written by Australian authors recently (although not in this genre), and one of the things I most enjoy in quite a few of them is the way they can incorporate the sounds and the feel of the landscape and the country into the stories. It sounds as if Zachary has a knack for that as well. I’ve already preordered the book, so I’m looking forward to his and the rest of the stories. Thanks for another great interview, Priscilla, and good luck to the author with all his projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, Olga. And that sort of writing enhances the reader’s experience even more. Thanks for commenting.:-)

      p.s. Olga, I read Escaping Psychiatry. It was entertaining as well as fascinating!

      Like

  12. Spooky, tropical, and cemetery? I already love this! As someone living in a mostly cold place, I always imagine cemeteries as silent and empty – but it seems that in Australia it’s the other way around. Ironically, everything’s full of life, right? It makes me curious about your story already, and the way you describe your writing process only pushes it further. So excited to read more!
    And just wanted to add thank you, all three interviews were so much fun to read. I’m not scared of cemeteries or graveyards, but I’ve never realized they can be so interesting to explore. From now on, I’ll definitely be paying more attention to symbols and history whenever I visit one.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The heavy metal comparison doesn’t sound wanky to me either. Music and fiction can give the same feeling, and we can enjoy them both the same way. Some of us do look for that feeling while reading, as well as writing. Listening to something with a suitable tone to what we write really helps.

    Liked by 1 person

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